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The Saint John Arms Public House Melchbourne

The Saint John Arms February 2014
The Saint John Arms February 2014

The earliest reference to licensed premises in Melchbourne is in 1711 when victualler Hugh Woodfull was buried [P73/1/1]. The first reference to the Saint John Arms is in the countywide licensing register of 1822 [CLP13]. An abstract of title shows that the inn formed part of the Melchbourne Estate owned by the Lords Saint John of Bletsoe [GK139/1], hence the name of the pub.

The Rating and Valuation Act 1925 specified that every building and piece of land in the country was to be assessed to determine its rateable value. The valuer visiting the Saint John Arms [DV1/C191/] found that the occupier, Charles Roberts, paid rent of £28 per annum and that it was a free house.

The "well built" property comprised a bar, bar parlour, tap room, store room, living room, kitchen, scullery and five bedrooms above. A coach house, wood store, coal house and washhouse all stood outside. Trade was about one barrel of 36 gallons of beer per week, bottled trade being "negligible". The valuer commented: "Clean place" and "Good house, poor position".

In 1930 the free house status came to an end when the estate sold the pub to Bedford brewers Newland and Nash for £108 [GK139/8]. In fact Newland and Nash had been bought out by Biggleswade brewer Wells and Winch in 1924. Wells and Winch were themselves taken over by Suffolk brewer Greene King in 1961. Today [2015] the Saint John Arms remains open as a public house.

References:

  • CLP13: Register of Alehouse Recognizances: 1822-1828;
  • GK139/1: abstract of title: 1874-1929;
  • PSS3/1: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1901;
  • PSS3/2: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: c.1903;
  • GK139/8: conveyance: 1930;
  • PSS3/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Sharnbrook Petty Sessional Division: 1904-1930- X351/3 Includes photograph c.1965;
  • PSBW8/3: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions: 1976-1980.
  • PSBW8/4: Register of Alehouse Licences - Biggleswade and North Bedfordshire Petty Sessional Divisions:  c.1957-1995 

Licensees: Note that this is not a complete list; italics indicate licensees whose beginning and/or end dates are not known

1822-1861: John Tibbs/Tebbs;
1869-1876: William Clark;
1881: Thomas Oliver;
1890-1898: Gabriel Smith;
1907- 1931: Charles Roberts
1935: Sarah Roberts;
1935: Charles Church;
1940: Harry Chattle;
1958-1969: Frank Henry Fuller;
1969-1975: Robert Bernard Anderson;
1975-1985: Rennie Houghton;
1985-1995: John George Wright.